Big 12: Jeremy Flores

Simms' turnover-binge boosts CU to title in No. 11 memory

June, 26, 2009
6/26/09
6:03
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

No. 11

When BCS meant "Boo Chris Simms"

Date: Dec. 1, 2001
Place: Texas Stadium, Irving, Texas
Score: Colorado 39, Texas 37

Texas had already won a Big 12 championship, but was looking for its first title under coach Mack Brown. Underdog Colorado was making its first trip to the Big 12 title game.

Shortly before the game, the Longhorns' stakes were raised when Tennessee stunned No. 2 Florida, seemingly providing an avenue for Texas to play in its first Bowl Championship Series title game.

But Chris Brown, Bobby Pesavento and Gary Barnett's underdog Buffaloes had other ideas.

After Cedric Benson scored on a 5-yard touchdown early in the first quarter, the Buffaloes charged back. Chris Brown scored a pair of touchdowns, sandwiched around a 39-yard field goal by Jeremy Flores that provided the Buffaloes a 16-7 lead.

Texas quarterback Chris Simms struggled through a miserable first half, throwing three interceptions and fumbling away another turnover in the first half before he was replaced by Major Applewhite. Those miscues prompted the wrath of fans, who booed him louder with each turnover.

His last interception typified Texas' luck in the game. Top lineman Mike Williams and Benson ran into each other trying to tackle Colorado safety Medford Moorer, who eluded them on a 64-yard touchdown. Both Williams and Benson were hurt for the rest of the game and Simms sustained a dislocated ring finger on his throwing hand on the play.  

Several Buffaloes mentioned after the game they were infuriated when they saw that Simms wearing patent leather shoes during his pregame warm-ups. They thought that action and a pregame television interview by Simms disrespected their team.

Applewhite provided a surge of momentum two plays after entering the game, hooking up with B.J. Johnson on a 79-yard touchdown pass which pulled the Longhorns within 29-17 at the half.

Brown added another 11-yard touchdown to start the second half and Applewhite led his first two second-half drives that led to field goals by Dusty Mangum, pulling Texas to 36-23.

Colorado was poised to put the game away when Barnett made what he confessed after the game was a bad mistake. Third-string quarterback Robert Hodge's pass from punt formation was intercepted by Roderick Babers, who returned in 54 yards for a touchdown, trimming Colorado's lead to six with 9:10 left.

Barnett was saved from criticism when the Buffaloes added Flores' clinching 43-yard field goal with 1:58 left, capping a 51-yard drive that consumed 7 minutes, 12 seconds.

Applewhite hooked up with Johnson on a 1-yard touchdown pass with 37 seconds left, but it was too late. The Buffaloes escaped with a 39-37 victory and their first conference championship since winning the Big Eight in 1991.

Factoids to note: Colorado's impressive victory continued a five-game winning streak that had included a blowout victory over Nebraska the previous week. Chris Brown rushed for 182 yards on 33 carries and scored three touchdowns. It gave him nine touchdowns in his last two games ... Applewhite completed 15 of 25 passes for 240 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions ... Texas came into the game ranked second nationally in scoring defense (11.4 points per game) and yards allowed (227.3 per game) but were trampled by Colorado's ground-based attack ... Simms' four turnovers led to 22 Colorado points. Coming into the game, Simms had thrown 16 touchdown passes and two interceptions in his previous six games ... The victory enabled Colorado a measure of revenge after losing earlier in the season to the Longhorns at Austin, 41-7. 

They said it, part I: "When we left the hotel today, I told them we are a team of destiny. No one is playing with more heart right now." Colorado coach Gary Barnett on his team's resiliency in notching the upset.

They said it, part II: "I was stunned with what happened to me. We had a chance to go to the Rose Bowl. I don't know what happened." Texas quarterback Chris Simms, in explaining his struggles to the Associated Press.

They said it, part III: "We wanted to intimidate him. We wanted to hit him so often that he'd feel we were coming even when we weren't. I think it worked pretty well. We did cause him to throw some bad balls," Colorado safety Michael Lewis, who told the New York Times about his defense's plans to rough up Simms.

The upshot: The victory boosted Colorado into its first and only BCS bowl berth in history, where the Buffaloes lost, 38-16, to Oregon. The Buffaloes ended the season 10-3 with a No. 9 finish in the final Associated Press poll. It was Colorado's highest end-of-season finish since placing eighth in 1996.

Texas' loss dropped them to the Holiday Bowl. Before the game, Texas coach Mack Brown announced on a Web site interview -- extremely rare for its time -- that Applewhite would be his starter in the bowl game. 

Applewhite produced when he got a chance as a starter. He capped his Texas career by passing for a career-best 473 yards to lead the Longhorns to a dramatic 47-43 comeback victory over Washington. The Longhorns overcame a 19-point deficit late in the third quarter as Applewhite led what at the time was the largest rally in school history. The Longhorns finished the season 11-2 and No. 5 nationally in the AP poll, their highest finish since 1983.

The countdown:

12. A Buffalo stampede: Six Brown TDs lead CU to first Big 12 title game.
13. Run, Ricky, run. Ricky Williams breaks career rushing record.
14. Wild game, wilder post-game rants when Gundy and Leach meet in 2007.
15. Rout 66: No, that score wasn't a typo.
16. KSU finally slays the Cornhuskers.
17. Kingsbury and Long hook up in a passing duel for the ages.
18. Henery and Suh make Colorado blue.
19. Stunning OSU rally leads to Stoops' first home loss.
20. It's never over for Texas Tech until it's over.
21. Reesing to Meier. Again and again.
22. A Texas-sized comeback -- Texas over Oklahoma State in 2004.
23. A Border War unlike any of the rest -- Missouri over Kansas in 2007.
24. Seneca Wallace's wild TD run vs. Texas Tech in 2001.
25. Baylor's "So Much for Taking a Knee" against UNLV in 1999.

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